Autobiography and Narrative Resilience

Toward a literary genre of ‘neither peace nor war’




War literature, ‘neither peace nor war’, peace studies, testimonial writing


While numerous studies have attempted to define forms of communication for the experience of eye witnessing the atrocities of war, little has been written on the inverse experience: how can one bear witness to not seeing warfare? I propose that this question has a profound ethical and political importance in the present, as the elimination of war’s demolition from the European horizon is essential to understanding the political situation that contemporary authors are witnessing. Retracing recent adaptations of the constructions of peace and war in the field of international studies may serve as a point of departure for determining a literary genre of ‘neither peace nor war’ related to contemporary French life-writings of writers such as Jean Rouaud and Jean-Yves Jouannais. Without being physically present for the events of extreme violence their writing describes in a first-person narrative, this genre creates a space for a reappearance of the war through the reconstructed European horizon of the present and opens a window toward a mode of resistance to the adverse political situation of ‘neither peace nor war’.

Author Biography

Hadas Zahavi, Sorbonne Nouvelle University, Tel Aviv University

Hadas Zahavi is a Ph.D. student within the framework of a direct double Ph.D. program (Cotutelle) at the Sorbonne Nouvelle University and the Tel Aviv University under the supervisors Prof. Michele Bokobza Kahan and Prof. Alexandre Gefen. Her doctoral research investigates the question 'How can we bear witness to a war in which we were not present?’ through the literary corpus of Jean Rouaud. Hadas Zahavi is grateful to her supervisors for the scientific guidance, to the Azrieli Foundation for the award of an Azrieli Fellowship, to the French Embassy for the award of a Chateaubriand Fellowship and to the Fulbright Program for the Fulbright scholar award.





Autobiography and Narrative Resilience